The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress dates back to 1943, when Allen Tate was Consultant in Poetry. It contains nearly two thousand recordings—of poets and prose writers participating in literary events at the Library’s Capitol Hill campus as well as sessions at the Library’s Recording Laboratory. Highlights from the collection include: Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Mario Vargas Llosa, Rita Dove, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, W.S. Merwin, Sandra Cisneros, Amy Clampitt, Robert Pinsky , and Miłosz, Czesław, among many others. [more inside]
"Much has been said about the storytelling techniques of 'Serial,' which comes out in weekly installments even as the show’s host, Sarah Koenig, reinvestigates the conviction of a Baltimore-area teenager for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. The serialized approach teases its audience with cliffhangers, prompts its listeners to construct their own theories and invites outsiders to glimpse the tricky winnowing process of reporting. But 'Serial' also testifies to how much the criminal justice system itself is founded on storytelling." (Laura Miller, Salon: The new "In Cold Blood" revisionism: Why it doesn't matter if Capote’s classic wasn't fully true) [more inside]
Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, OBE, FRSA, FRSL, best known as crime writer P.D. James, died today at the age of 94.
17 Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read in a Sitting by Lincoln Michel at Electric Literature:
This week author Ian McEwan expressed his love of short novels, saying “very few [long] novels earn their length.” Certainly it seems like a novel has to be a minimum of 500 pages to win a major literary award these days, and many genre novels have ballooned to absurd sizes.[more inside]
I love a good tome, but like McEwan many of my favorite novels are sharpened little gems. It’s immensely satisfying to finish a book in a single day, so in the spirit of celebrating quick reads here are some of my favorite short novels. I’ve tried to avoid the most obvious titles that are regularly assigned in school (The Stranger, Heart of Darkness, Mrs Dalloway, Of Mice and Men, Frankenstein, The Crying of Lot 49, etc.). Hopefully you’ll find some titles here you haven’t read before.
Things That Don't Suck, Some Notes on The Stand
[Spoiler alert: assume everything, from the link above to those below, contains SPOILERS.] [more inside]
I recently reread The Stand for no particular reason other than I felt like it. I'm honestly not sure how many time[s] I've read it at this point, more than three, less than a half dozen (though I can clearly remember my first visit to that horrifyingly stripped bare world as I can remember the first reading of all the truly great King stories). It's not my favorite of King's work, but it is arguably his most richly and completely imagined. It truly is the American Lord of The Rings, with the concerns of England (Pastorialism vs. Industrialism, Germany's tendency to try and blow it up every thirty years or so) replaced by those of America (Religion, the omnipresent struggle between our liberal and libertarian ideals, our fear of and dependence on the military, racial and gender tension) and given harrowing size.
I'm happy to say that The Stand holds up well past the bounds of nostalgia and revisiting the world and these characters was as pleasurable as ever. But you can't step in the same river twice, even when you're revisiting a favorite book. Even if the river hasn't changed you have. This isn't meant as any kind of comprehensive essay on The Stand. Just a couple of things I noticed upon dipping my toes in the river this time.
[Spoiler alert: assume everything, from the link above to those below, contains SPOILERS.] [more inside]
Trans women writers Jeanne Thornton, Imogen Binnie, Red Durkin and Casey Plett read from their recent works for Talks at Google. [more inside]
"Certainly, there appears to be a large correlation between artists and depression. But I would argue that artistic expression is not a symptom of depression so much as a response to it. I see writing as an act of resistance against an occupying enemy who means to kill me. It’s why I’m writing this now." YA author Libba Bray on living with depression.
One of the 20th century's most prolific and well regarded authors of crime fiction, Elmore Leonard, has died at the age of 87, following a stroke two weeks ago. Leonard's novels and short stories were frequently adapted to movies and television, with particular acclaim in the cases of Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Jackie Brown, and Justified.
Cult writer Renata Adler, whose novel Speedboat has been reissued by NYRB Classics, sits down for an interview with The Believer. [more inside]
Highlighting forgotten, neglected, abandoned, forsaken, unrecognized, unacknowledged, overshadowed, out-of-fashion, under-translated writers.
The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure: poignant tales of the justly obscure. The entry on Hans Kafka is a good starting point.
"Bringing up the women’s question — I mean the women’s fiction question — is not unlike mentioning the national debt at a dinner party."
If “The Marriage Plot,” by Jeffrey Eugenides, had been written by a woman yet still had the same title and wedding ring on its cover, would it have received a great deal of serious literary attention? Or would this novel (which I loved) have been relegated to “Women’s Fiction,” that close-quartered lower shelf where books emphasizing relationships and the interior lives of women are often relegated? Certainly “The Marriage Plot,” Eugenides’s first novel since his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Middlesex,” was poised to receive tremendous literary interest regardless of subject matter, but the presence of a female protagonist, the gracefulness, the sometimes nostalgic tone and the relationship-heavy nature of the book only highlight the fact that many first-rate books by women and about women’s lives never find a way to escape “Women’s Fiction” and make the leap onto the upper shelf where certain books, most of them written by men (and, yes, some women — more about them later), are prominently displayed and admired.So begins The Second Shelf: On the Rules of Literary Fiction for Men and Women, an essay in the New York Times by novelist Meg Wolitzer. She was interviewed about her essay in the NYT Book Review podcast (mp3 link, interview starts at about 18:30). Wolitzer references the classic 1998 essay by Francine Prose, Scent of a woman's ink: Are women writers really inferior?, and further back in time you find Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, which, as literary critic Ruth Franklin notes, still sounds fresh today.
Pages from Beckett's wartime manuscripts - from Watt, written in ink and colored crayons between 1940 and 1945, numbers 945 pages in six notebooks and loose sheets. More from Watt, part of a larger 2006 Samuel Beckett Centenary Exhibition, Fathoms from Anywhere.
"You never hear, “Famous author Neil Gaiman caught with seven stewardesses in a Wichita bus depot.” Chuck Wendig says, "We need literary rock star heroes to swoop in and save publishing." Well, perhaps... But can you picture this? "The authorial world demands this. And we’re not talking about some little Twitter snit, some online battle oozing across a handful of Livejournal comments. It’s not enough for Stephen King to talk to Entertainment Weekly and be all like, “Well, Stephenie Meyer is no J.K. Rowling, pfft.” I’m talking, Terry Pratchett needs to go and take a shit in Dan Brown’s mailbox."
The man who carries a cat by the tail learns something that can be learned in no other way. - Mark Twain
Writers get pirated too - so how can they still earn money? Here are some ideas, but are they workable? [more inside]
Henry Miller Bathroom Monologues, part 2, part 3, and follow on - Miller takes us on a tour of the art in his bathroom. And a few years later, we have Dinner with Henry, 1979 . [more inside]
Pictures of writers in a thread on I Love Music. Lots and lots of pictures of lots of writers. Another thread from the same board with more pictures (some duplicates). Author photos are most often seen on dust jackets or in the back of books, a practice Frances Wilson wishes to see abolished. One famous connoisseur of pictures of writers is Javier Marías who wrote a whole book on the subject, Written Lives. Here are a few excerpts from the book: William Faulkner, Isak Dinesen (pen name of Karen Blixen) and an edited extract covering a whole lot of authors. [more inside]
Readersvoice.com is a lovely, low key site that interviews authors in a down to earth fashion that you normally don't see. The whole approach is wonderfully refreshing and endlessly fascinating.
Virginia Woolf the cricketer, the beach belle posing in a stripy bathing suit or as the March Hare at an Alice in Wonderland-themed party. For the first time, 1,000 photographs from Woolf's private album and that of her sister, Vanessa Bell, have been catalogued and published. More inside. (via litterae)
Infected warthog anus boogers!Author and iconoclast; or freak? If you spent any time in downtown Toronto in the 80's you likely saw Crad Kilodney, Dead Man Talking.
Although cancer got these three young writers before their books were published, their now-acclaimed work -- from children's inspirational to humorous fantasy to coming of age (book and movie) -- was brought to life by the efforts of parents or a brother or friends.
Two Writers Drinking, Sitting Around, Talking About Stuff. That about says it! Two online veterans get drunk and exchange e-mails. (An ongoing series. The above link is part one. Part two is here, and part three can be found right here). (Via Maud)
So You Think You Might Be A Writer? Just because you write? An astute essay by Joseph Epstein poses the uncomfortable question: are you weird enough? There's something very unnatural and unhealthy about writing (as opposed to reading, for instance) - but what is it? [Via Arts and Letters Daily.]
For the adventurous reader Dispatches From The Vanishing World a collection of environment themed travel articles by Alex Shoumatoff. Observe the "skeed row" behaviour of The Alcoholic Monkeys of St.Kitts, or travel to the worlds largest swap almost twice the size of England in the Amazon, this site presents magazine articles by Alex over the last 30 years as seen in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Rolling Stone.
Star Trek: Voyager fanfiction. For years, people have asked themselves, what would happen if certain crewmembers hooked up? Endless combinations have been thought out and pondered, but perhaps the most popular of all, Janeway and Seven of Nine, has been given the full treatment here. Possibly not safe for work (especially the "R" rated stories), because you could be carried out as you laugh yourself to death. A look into the bizarre and often highly amusing world of fanfiction.
William Gibson now on William Gibson then. Yep, that is indeed me, though nothing I'm saying there, at such painful length, is even remotely genuine. They were offering $500 for someone to monologue about the summer of lurve, etc., and I was (1) somewhat articulate, and (2) wanted desperately to get my ass out of Yorkville ... $500 was serious money
Author Michael Chabon makes a fair amount of his work available on the web. In addition to presenting pieces originally published elsewhere, he offers up a treatment for the original X-Men movie FOX asked him to write, a couple of television projects that never made the airwaves, as well as the usual I have a website and this is what I like . Something to read since so few Metafites own televisions...
An Exercise in Identity A group of writers seeks to collaborate under a single pseudonym, not for fear of scorn or ridicule, but presumably because they think it makes for better business. Do readers have a right to know who a work's author really is, or can identity just be another aspect of the fictional work? (via Kuro5hin queue)
What DOESN'T this guy do? He writes novels, screenplays, and old school radio dramas. In his spare time he records sci-fi inspired avant-garde electronica, trippy ambient stuff, and produces albums for other bands. He meshes spoken word and noise-pop , and with his old band, the unapologetic New Romantics Oo Oo Wa, produced an absolute wanker masterpiece, and ended up getting signed by the same guy who gave the Smashing Pumpkins their first record deal. Of late, he just turned up on Electric Lash: A Tribute to The Church. Creative genius, or too damned much Starbucks?
Are you writing a novel? An article in the NY Times urging would-be authors to pack it in. Given the quoted stat (that 81% of Americans 'feel they have a book in them'), and extrapolating it for the rest of the world, that still means that there are roughly 12,887 unwritten books out there in me-fi land. Is this true? And has anyone actually written theirs down?
Envy of the Literary World, or another Trust-Fund Novelist? Following up on the discussion of J.T. LeRoy a few weeks ago, here's a story from the Observer about Nick McDonell, who's 18, just out of high school and about to publish a major novel (you may have read about him in the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" section). The catch is, his dad edits SI, his publisher is his godfather, and Hunter S. Thompson, who plugs the book, is a family friend. The book's not out yet, so the quality question is moot at this point. But still ... what gives with all this ridiculously young writers these days?
Typewriter Dependency (common disorder resulting from metaphysical thinking about punctuation) [nyt reg req] "A recent survey of the top 1,000 living English-language authors finds that more than 80 percent own manual typewriters averaging 43 years in age and three broken functions, with a per-unit resale value of $4.75 and slipping. Yet in a questionnaire about their response if brigands should invade their homes and demand either their beat-up old manual typewriters or their spouses on pain of death, a whopping 96 percent wrote ''Spouse.''
Tom Perrotta may be one of the best novelists working today, yet not that many folks know his name. His books and short stories portray prosaic suburbia accurately and without condescension, and he has uncanny insight into the mind of the terminally adolescent. Not to mention an uproarious sense of humor. If the films of Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater, the music of Weezer, or Pete Bagge's comics resonate with you, you may want to check out their literary equivalent. As an added treat, here's an audio link of Perrota reading his work. For my money, this guy is one of our best American writers right now, although you wouldn't know it.
Dr. Paul Linebarger became a spy for the U.S. Intelligence community because he was an expert in propaganda, psychological warfare, and the culture of China. In his other secret life, however, he wrote some of the most wildly inventive and unusual science fiction ever, forming a history of mankind and its Instrumentality that spanned fifteen thousand years. To protect his identity, he published under the name Cordwainer Smith.
So, has Stephen King lost it? This guy seems to think so. Some would say he never had it. I think that while this guy makes a few valid points, he goes overboard, and brings up many things that just seem petty and silly, like he's trying to over-prove his theory, and increase the word count of the article. What do you think? (Side note: I wouldn't be surprised if "Richard Blow" becomes the name of a victim in a future King novel...).
William Gibson talks about the Japanese as the Ultimate Early Adaptors, mobile phones and schoolgirls. As usual he is obsessed with wrist watches.
how in the world did this article, which basically repremands readers from making assumptions about and being intrusive into the private lives of memoirists, end by propositioning dave eggers? i mean really, wtf? the author of the piece, lorri gottlieb, ought to be ashamed of herself.